Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat- A public opinion poll conducted by the Iraqi Center for Development and International Dialogue concerning the constitutional process and the next elections showed that 88 percent of polled Iraqis intended to participate in the referendum on the proposed permanent constitution. The poll also showed that 6 percent of them have not decided whether to participate in the referendum or not and 5 percent did not wish to participate. While 30 percent of the sampled Iraqi citizens supported the establishment of a federal system, 84 percent expressed their support for women”s rights.
In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, Dr. Mahdi al-Hafiz, the director of the center, said, "Public opinion polls are an advanced mechanism and an effective method for understanding the directions in public opinion on fundamental issues." He noted that this poll "assumes extraordinary importance because of the role the constitution can play in Iraq”s future." Al-Hafiz said, "There is a need to learn the views of the citizens on difficult and controversial issues to determine the trends in society. The results reached by the Iraqi Center for Development and International Dialogue deserve attention, particularly regarding the position on federalism, natural resources, and religion and state, and this was reflected in the results of the poll."
The poll surveyed the opinions of 3,667 people, aged 18 years and older. They represented 3,708 families in the Governorates of Al-Sulaymaniyah, Ninawa, Al-Ta”mim, Diyala, Baghdad, Babil, Karbala, Wasit, Salah-al-Din, Al-Najaf, Al-Qadisiyah, Al-Muthanna, Dhi Qar, Maysan, and Al-Basrah. Males represented 53 percent of the sample and females 47 percent. The results of the poll also showed that 88 percent believed in the need to hold the referendum under the present circumstances, 10 percent did not believe so, 2 percent did not respond, and 10 percent did not view the referendum as something important. About 34 percent of the sample thought that Iraq was not an independent and sovereign country, 23 percent felt that the constitution did not occupy their attention or fulfill their aspirations, and 13 percent said that the country did not need democracy at this time. About 61 percent thought that the security situation is inappropriate and 27 percent felt that foreigners were forcing them to amend the constitution at this time.
The results of the poll showed that 40 percent of the 5 percent who did not wish to participate in the referendum were not interested in politics, 26 percent were not interested in the constitution, 17 percent did not feel that the security situation was good to hold the referendum, and 12 percent thought that the time was not appropriate for writing the constitution. About 30 percent supported federalism, 45 percent supported the establishment of a central government, 23 percent a federal government, 16 percent a decentralized government, and 13 percent did not express an opinion. This confirms the relative closeness between those who want a central government and those who want a decentralized government.
About 42 percent supported the need to make Islam a main source of legislation and 24 percent supported the need to make Islam the only source of legislation. About 13 percent thought that no laws that contradict Islam should be enacted and 14 percent thought that Islam is one of the sources of legislation. About 84 percent supported granting women all freedoms without contradicting Islam and 13 percent believed that the rights of women should be guaranteed through equality with men. About 60 percent supported maintaining the present percentage of women representation in parliament (25 percent), 21 percent thought that women should have 33 percent representation, and 14 percent thought that there should be equal representation of males and females.
Regarding the natural resources, the poll showed that 50 percent believed that the central government should distribute these resources in a relative way and 19 percent believed that an independent body established by the constitution should handle the distribution. About 12 percent supported distributing the resources according to percentages specified by the constitution between the federal government and the regions, while 8 percent believed that the government of the region that possesses the resources should distribute them. About 52 percent thought the constitution should be impartial, establishing the basis for justice and equality. While 35 percent thought this was extremely possible, 5 percent did not think so and 7 percent did not respond to the question. About 78 percent of the polled citizens expected the security situation to improve after the approval of the constitution, 15 percent expected the situation to remain the same, and 2 percent believed that the security situation would become worse. About 85 percent of the polled Iraqis showed interest in the next elections and 10 percent did not show any interest. About 82 percent responded that the purpose of the next elections is to elect a new parliament, 6 percent said it is to choose local councils, and 2 percent said it is to choose a national assembly for the Kurdistan region.